First Off…read Psalm 48!
Our psalm today is a reflection and praise on the city of Jerusalem. A praise on the magnitude and beauty of the city that was the epicenter for the Jewish people. But it’s more than that because Jerusalem was more than a city – it was believed to be the very place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22) and the place where the holy of holies was. Jerusalem is sacred, holy, and seen as the very apple of God’s eye. To the Hebrews – it was the center of the world. It’s where God dwelled, it’s what God considered sacred and the very place he gave to his promised children and their descendants. In essence, outside of God himself…
Jerusalem = EVERYTHING.
As we read Psalm 48 we need to understand a few things of history. To the Hebrews during this time the city was not only Zion – the place for God and his people – but it was their protection, their stronghold, their past, present, and future. She was a city that was more glorious and important than any other thing. So to honor God and show of his might and strength (and to intimidate all the surrounding people and nations) they built walls, towers, temple – anything and everything that reflected not only the magnitude of the living God but also anything and everything that would tell her neighbors “don’t mess with Jerusalem!” So it makes perfect sense to have a psalm that sings of the grandeur of such a place. It makes sense to have a reflective psalm (which we aren’t quite sure who penned) that sings of the walls, the terror that this city sends, and the fact that it is the only living God, Yahweh, that stands and makes her secure forever (vs 8).
I’m struck by this psalm – I’m struck by the boasting that happens.
One of the many lessons I was taught by my parents and learned over time is that one shouldn’t boast. One shouldn’t be brash or arrogant in life. Nobody likes the person who is cocky. It’s almost like they are begging to be brought low. Begging to be knocked off their pedestal and brought low! And oh the people of Jerusalem have been brought low…time and time again. Numerous times the people were seized, captured, driven off, and even enslaved.
So why are they so brazen here? Why does the psalmist give this impression that they are walking along and almost egging all other people and nations to “try” to attack her? Try to bring her down! “GIVE US YOUR BEST SHOT BABYLON! All you kings…join your forces, bring the best of your best, advance together…you will flee in fear once again!” (vs 4-5)
I’m not sure. But what I do know is that when the people of Jerusalem were faithful to God…nothing could destroy her. When the people were faithful to God – nothing could bring them, or their beloved city, to her knees. When the people of God worship God and him alone…there was nothing, in life or in death, that could bring fear.
So that almost begs the question for me – do I boast about God and his love, protection, and safety? SHOULD I boast?
Times have changed – no boasting of the security of the city needs to happen. We affirm that Christ became the living Temple, the holy of holies – and it is in HIM that we put our security.
So should we boast in Christ?
Paul says we shouldn’t – it was kind of the problem with the church in Corinth (1 Cor 1:29) – but he also says that if we DO boast – boast in the Lord (1:31). But what we must understand is that there is a difference between boasting in the Lord and boasting in yourself. The people of Jerusalem boasted in the Lord – the people of Corinth boasted in themselves.
So should we boast in Christ?
Well – I’d say yes and no. But let me ask about HOW or WHY you boast. Do we boast to puff ourselves up or egg people on? Then no. Do we boast to challenge or make ourselves seem, and appear, better than others? Than no.
Boasting in Christ means understanding that it is he and he alone that fills our every need. Through Christ God tore down walls, citadels, towers, and everything else that makes us feel secure. Boasting in Christ, especially from a Greek understanding of the word, simply means “rejoice” and finding “glory”. Those are the things that the Hebrews were doing – these are the things that we do too…just now manifested in Christ and not the city of God.
So boast away – as long as our “boasting” is in rejoicing. Boast away – as long as our boasting is of God’s glory and grace. To HIM be honor and glory and praise. We boast in HIS work and love…not us who are the recipients of that grace and love.